Beware of the Other 'R' Word

Not "r" for recession, but for robust - a key word in the Lexicon of Politico-babble.   

Be alert to the likely presence of duplicity when a politician uses the word robust.  In the Lexicon of Politico-babble you'll find it listed along with other mush words like unfortunate, unacceptable, appropriate measures, regrettable, and consultations.

These and other once fine and even powerful words have been eviscerated - a word unlikely to make to the Lexicon - by Beltway use. Or, better, abuse.  

On a single day, back during the last Hezbollah-Israeli conflagration, when it was announced that the U.N. would send peace keepers - those Blue Helmeted Barney Fifes of military units - to southern Lebanon, both President Bush and Secretary of State Rice used the word robust to describe the U.N. force that was to be deployed.  It was a truly robust display of robust. (Remember the photo the next day of five French commandos coming ashore in a rubber raft?)

Robust once meant strong, healthy, and vigorous.  

Sometimes business executives use the word when they're getting the snot knocked out of them by their competition. They'll say things like, "We plan to announce several proactive restructuring initiatives that will result in our having a more robust presence in the market." That usually means it's time to sell their stock.

Robust was once a robust word - a linguistic draft horse. Not any more. Today's is the verbal equivalent of an anemic hamster.

Well, on June 16, Bloomberg reported that:

President Barack Obama said he is "confident" that he won't have to raise taxes on most Americans to close the budget deficit as long as the economy picks up steam.  "One of the biggest variables in this whole thing is economic growth," the president said in an interview with Bloomberg News at the White House. "If we are growing at a robust rate, then we can pay for the government that we need without having to raise taxes."

The unstated antithesis is, "If we are growing at an anemic rate, then we will, regrettably, be forced to take appropriate measures to raise taxes substantially. To do otherwise would be unsustainable."

And there's that recent entry into the Lexicon of Politico-babble: Unsustainable. It means: Something that, if sustained, will inevitably lead to unfortunate consequences that we hope to mitigate early by using the word unsustainable in a proactive effort to placate the gods of cause and effect, impartial to the stupidity of mankind though they be.